Last week, 179 of 180 legislators voted Yes on Prop 2 to update Vermont’s Constitution to reflect our current values regarding indentured servitude and slavery. While Vermont was ahead of its time regarding banning indentured servitude and slavery among adults, the last 235 years have brought us farther and our foundational document should reflect it. The process will take the vote to The People in the next biennium.
Bills passed out of the House to create Paid Family Leave and to increase minimum wage to $12.55 in 2022 with continued incremental increases annually.
We had a busy week in House Ag and Forestry Committee last week. Topics covered ranged from Biochar, Agritourism liability, Carbon sequestration, Agency of Ag’s roles and responsibilities if Cannabis Tax and Regulate passes, current public notice practices for pesticide application in public right of ways, grazing and pasture management, rules governing what “local” or “Vermont” claims on food products, animal cruelty, current use “dwelling” acreage requirements, and Tree Warden statute. I wish I could share all of it with you, but that would be a book, not an article.
Regarding pesticide application: Current Agency of Ag regulations require that anybody operating under right of way permit must notify proximal residents at least 25 days in advance via TV, radio, newspaper, social media, and knock on the door within a couple days prior to application. If nobody is home, they leave a hand-out. Often the notice is also in our electric bill in January or February.
Did you know that roughly half of Vermonters’ Carbon emissions are quietly absorbed by our forests. A key piece of doing our part regarding climate change is to keep forests intact. While some, like Burnt Mountain, have been put into “forever wild” status, it is important to inspire private landowners to maintain forests by supporting working forests and the forest products industry. We are wading through complicated data about Carbon Markets which can bring potential income for owners of forested lands. Learn more at: https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2020/WorkGroups/House%20Agriculture/Clean%20Water%20Initiative/W~Michael%20Snyder~Vermont%20Forest%20Carbon%20Sequestration%20Working%20Group%20Final%20Report~1-23-2020.pdf
Governor Scott’s budget address was conservative with a few new proposals, much of it about finding efficiencies, as we are all concerned about small state’s humble revenue and mitigating the impact of our demographic challenges. The current total budget is $6.3 billion, which is not much compared to most states. More details about Governor Scott’s address can be found at: https://vtdigger.org/2020/01/21/scotts-2020-budget-address-big-priorities-but-no-big-spends-%EF%BB%BF/ or the full speech: https://vtdigger.org/2020/01/21/watch-live-gov-phil-scotts-2020-budget-address/
Sound policy must be based on reason, which requires accurate, complete data. Such data requires acknowledging the full spectrum of reality instead of insisting on only one perspective. There is no room for dogma or ego in a reasoned approach. If you have questions about my votes, please ask me. I continue to learn more about particular issues and how they all fit together in a complicated web.
Rep Charen Fegard